Sport on the Internet

THE DESIGNERS of the official site for the US Open tennis tournament which starts today have gone out of their way to make the site informative as well as interactive.

Each page has a "did you know" box positioned so that the eye flows naturally to it after the main text has been read. The result is that even the trivia-averse may end up with enough info-bites to earn a reputation with their local pub-quiz team.

More structured information is also accessible, and the navigation design is such that getting around the site is effortless. Live information is the main attraction, and should pose no problems. Last week the Java scoreboards relayed real-time scores from the qualifying tournament without a hitch, and the draw was covered with a live cybercast - a mix of text, Webcam images and chat-room discussion.

The draw section is a useful focus for the event. It is optimised for on-screen use, but there is also a printer-friendly version for those who want a copy to take away from their PCs. Clicking on a player brings up a statistics-based biography, with details courtesy of the ATP Tour. Current and highest-achieved rankings, career wins and losses, and prize money earned supplement personal details such as height, weight and whether the player is right or left-handed.

The interactive features of the site include a NetCam feeding photographs from a fixed camera. More exciting for control freaks is the SlamCam, where users can try their hand at remotely controlling cameras with views of three stadia. The Webcam motif is continued with virtual tours offering vistas of the Louis Armstrong Stadium and views from the concourse of the Arthur Ashe Stadium out towards the city.

When play starts, live audio and video broadcasts - including ball-by- ball commentary of the final weekend - will be accessible from the "Interactive Open" area of the site, as will live chats and online polls.

The easy availability of online editions of United States newspapers makes it easy and quick to follow American media coverage of major sporting events. USA Today has comprehensive tennis coverage throughout the year. For the US Open, it goes into overdrive. Live news feeds and a rapid results service are augmented by more reflective features.

The full USA Today archive of last year's Open is still online with draw details, round-by-round results, championship statistics and Associated Press reports of the action. It is worth checking out to get a taster of the American style of reporting.

NYCtourist.com, the official site for New York City tourism, is big on events in general and the US Open in particular. As you would expect from a tourist site, the presentation style is sometimes saccharin-sweet. However, it does offer useful advice about parking and getting tickets. The many photographs in and around Flushing Meadows, as well as action shots from previous years, provide useful background colour for cybertourists.

Site Addresses

US Open 99 Official Site

http://www.usopen.org/

USA Today: Tennis

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/tennis.htm

USA Today 1998 US Open Archives

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/other/tennis/98open/index.htm NYCtourist.com http://www.nyctourist.com/

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